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Michael Drejka found guilty of manslaughter

Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ shooter has been found guilty of manslaughter in the killing of Markeis McGlockton, a jury has decided.

McGlockton was shot and killed by Michael Drejka during a July 2018 dispute over a disabled person’s parking spot at a Clearwater convenience store. 

Drejka admitted to shooting McGlockton last year, but his defense team had tried to argue it was a case of self-defense at trial. He will be sentenced October 10 and faces a minimum of nine-and-a-half-years in prison and a maximum of 15 years.

Drejka, 49, had been arguing with McGlockton’s girlfriend for parking in a disabled spot outside a food store in Clearwater, Florida. He did not have anyone in his vehicle and is not disabled himself but he said seeing people abusing handicap spots upset him. 

When McGlockton emerged from the store, he pushed Drejka over. Drejka reached for his weapon and shot him in the chest, killing him.

On Friday, his attorneys argued that he thought he was at danger and for that reason, he should be found innocent. 

Prosecutors however said surveillance footage of the incident proved that he was not in danger and that he shot too soon, without properly assessing the risk.  

 

Michael Drejka is shown in court on Friday, before the jury was sent out for deliberations. He declined to testify 

‘This is really a cut and dry case. There’s no misinterpreting that Markeis McGlockton was going backwards,’ he said, in reference to the fact that McGlockton was walking away from Drejka when he was shot. 

‘Did Michael Drejka reasonably believe he was about to die? Did he believe he was about to be beaten to a pulp? No,’ Scott Rosenwasser told the jury. 

Drejka, 49, shot and killed Markeis McGlockton, 28, in July 2018 in an argument over a parking spot

Drejka, 49, shot and killed Markeis McGlockton, 28, in July 2018 in an argument over a parking spot

‘You cannot shoot an unarmed retreating man, regardless of if he’s pushed you,’ he went on.   

Prosecutors said he thought of himself as a ‘vigilante enforcer’ who had a ‘pet peeve’ about able-bodied people parking in disabled spots. 

‘He’s got a pet peeve… he takes it upon himself to be the enforcer. He’s a parking lot vigilante,’ he said. 

He also criticized the way Drejka used police terminology while being interviewed by detectives when he had no law enforcement background.  

‘How many civilians walk around saying “neutralize” and “negative”. Those are law enforcement and military terms. Nobody talks like that. But he does.

‘He goes to enforce a spot at a convenience store, not like it’s his own property, and then he’s like, “I can’t believe she would talk back to me like that.” 

‘That’s his mentality,’ he said.  

Drejka’s attorneys presented expert witnesses to try to hold up his Stand Your Ground Defense. 

This is the moment Drejka shot the unarmed black man after he had pushed him to the ground

This is the moment Drejka shot the unarmed black man after he had pushed him to the ground 

In his closing argument, one of his lawyers told jurors to ‘use your common sense’ and said it was entirely reasonable for him to presume that McGlockton was going to hurt him. 

‘He wasn’t going out there to hug him. Come on! Use your common sense,’ attorney John Trevena said. 

‘Your fundamental right is to stay alive,’ he said, adding that Drejka ‘did not have the physical capacity to defend himself against such an aggressor.’ 

Trevena also chipped away at prosecutors’ characterization of him as trigger happy and said he had legally owned a gun without firing it for 25 years. 

‘You’d think if somebody was itching to use a firearm, if that was their agenda, you wouldn’t have found someone in 25 years time?’ he added. 

‘No one is disputing that he shot this man. It’s all on video,’ he said. He added that he felt prosecutors had ‘manipulated’ the jurors.  

The defense focused on the term deadly force and how it applies to citizens and not just law enforcement under the law. 

They asked the jury to consider not whether McGlockton was actually posing a threat, but whether they think it was reasonable for Drejka to assume that he was and draw his weapon. 

Drejka is shown lying on the floor during his police interview, reenacting shooting the victim

Drejka is shown lying on the floor during his police interview, reenacting shooting the victim 

The prosecution tore it apart and said they jury ought not to rule on what Drejka perceived as a threat, but what a reasonable person would perceive as a threat. 

The defense tried to use a real gun as a prop at one stage to try to make their case but the judge did not allow it. 

The defense presented just three witnesses. Drejka chose not testify, telling the judge through a statement: ‘I prefer not to testify.’

The prosecution presented more than 17 witnesses. They also played a video of his interview where he told the cops: ‘I  shoot to save my own a**. And that’s that.’ 

Elsewhere in the interview he said he thought McGlockton was going to kick him.  

‘As I come out I start drawing my weapon. As I start leveling off my weapon, he makes his next step towards me and 21-foot rule.

‘It happened so fast and that was that. …I thought kicks were coming or at least he’d be on top of me.

 ‘It happened so fast and that was that. …I thought kicks were coming or at least he’d be on top of me.

‘I’m thinking he’s coming to do the rest of it… whatever beating was coming after that. If he’s gonna hit me that hard to begin with from blindside from the get-go, what else should I expect?

‘He barely made the second step before I pulled the trigger.

At one point in the hour long interview, Drejka got on the ground and mimicked how he’d shot McGlockton.

He said that even though McGlockton was unarmed, he did not know that and that he thought his life was in danger. 

Drejka said he feared he was going to ‘finish what he started’ when he pushed him over and that he was trying to preempt it. 

The shooting was captured on surveillance videos outside the store. The footage shows McGlockton edging away from Drejka when he was shot. 

Britany Jacobs, 26, spoke publicly for the first time about the circumstances leading up to the death of her long-term boyfriend, Markeis McGlockton, 28, at the Clearwater convenience store parking lot on July 19, 2018

Britany Jacobs, 26, spoke publicly for the first time about the circumstances leading up to the death of her long-term boyfriend, Markeis McGlockton, 28, at the Clearwater convenience store parking lot on July 19, 2018

The first trial witness was Rich Kelly who said Drejka threatened to shoot him for parking in the same spot four months earlier

The first trial witness was Rich Kelly who said Drejka threatened to shoot him for parking in the same spot four months earlier 

When the detective told Drejka that instead of approaching him, he was backing away, Drejka said he ‘disagreed’. 

The detectives found it unusual that Drejka knew so much about the 21ft rule – a term invoked by law enforcement which refer the distance a suspect can travel towards an officer by the time they have identified a threat and pulled their weapon. 

There was also testimony from a police trainer who was familiar with the 21ft rule. 

He said the Drejka was wrong to invoke it and said it did not apply in his case.  

Among other witnesses was Noel Palma, the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on the victim’s body. 

The bullet traveled through his left lung and pierced his heart and right lung, causing him to die ‘pretty quickly.’

Other state witnesses included a doctor who determined McGlockton had ecstasy in his system at the time of his death. 

On Wednesday, the dead man’s girlfriend, who witnessed his death with her children in the back of her car, said she remembered thinking that she wanted Drejka to leave her and ‘her babies alone’. 

There was also testimony from a different black motorist who Drejka threatened to shoot for parking in the same disabled spot four months before McGlockton’s death. 

 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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